In a movement that shook many people in Los Angeles lately, officials ordered more than 1,000 students and staff members at two local universities to stay in their homes due to a measles outbreak.
Health officials are particularly concerned about new cases of this disease, which seems to be reappearing in the United States. They are suggesting people get individual health coverage if they don’t have already to keep themselves protected.
Although federal authorities stated that themeasles was eradicated from the US in the year 2000, 626 people had contracted the disease throughout the country until April 2019. The figure represents 1.5 times more cases than those registered the year before in the US.
Around 38 people were diagnosed in 2019, as part of the largest manifestation of the virus in northern California.
Following are some answers to common questions and tips to protect yourself from measles
What exactly is measles?
It is a contagious virus, which usually infects people for several weeks keeping them sick. Before the development of the vaccine, it was believed that all children in the United States would have suffered before the age of 15.
Measles spreads when you cough and sneeze. It is widely considered to be among the most contagious diseases out there. Even after a patient exits a room, the measles virus persists for as much as two hours and can infect a new victim.
How bad is it if I have measles?
A vast majority of people who get measles have a rash and feel sick, but they quickly get well. Others, however, are less fortunate.Approximately 0.002% of the people (1 in 500) with measles are reported to die from the disease.While only one in 1,000 tends to experience a brain inflammation known as encephalitis. Some of its other complications include ear infections and pneumonia.
Generally, children under five and those aged more than twenty years suffer serious complications. Director of the California Department of Health, Karen Smith said “Contrary to what some people think, measles is not a benign childhood disease.”
Can adults get it?
Yes. Three-quarters of the 38 people who got sick in California this year are adults. However, babies are especially susceptible because they do not receive their first measles vaccine until the first year of age.
I got vaccinated as a child. Can I still get it now?
Probably not. The vaccine for measles has proven to be one of the most effective ones ever since it protects 93% of those who fall victim to the disease. Almost everyone who contracted the disease this year in the US was not vaccinated.
The half-life of the vaccine – the time it takes for immunity to be reduced by half – is 200 years, so people are protected for a lifetime, said a professor of public health at the University of Maryland, Donald Milton “Immunization is very, very important,” he said.
Have we created a vaccination booster?
Because the vaccine continues being effective years after receiving it, a booster is not recommended,the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims. If you received the two doses of the recommended MMR vaccine as a child, you are not at risk.
However, there is a small exception. Those who got vaccinated between the years 1963 and 1967 might have received a dose that had some technical errors and did not work. They should get vaccinated again, recommend experts at the CDC.
Besides, if someone was born before 1957, it is presumed that they suffered measles because the vaccine was not available. If you are worried, a doctor can do a blood test to check your immunity levels. That is also an option if you are not sure what type of vaccine you received, or if you were vaccinated against measles. Check with your doctor.
Why do outbreaks occur?
American travelers were infected with measles on their trips to countries where it is rapidly spreading and then brought it to the USA. According to the state health department, Californians contracted the disease in 2019 when they traveled toIndia, Philippines, Thailand and Ukraine.
The outbreak in Los Angeles in 2019, is also linked to international tourism, but officials did not specify which country.
Once a society/community is exposed to measles, it begins to spread if people are not vaccinated. An outbreak in 2019 in New York, where 390 cases were confirmed, initiated when an unvaccinated child returned to NYC from Israel, where the disease is important and began to spread among Orthodox Jewish community members who were unvaccinated.
Measles outbreaks increased in the US and abroad due to declines in vaccine coverage. The World Health Organization (WHO), for the first time in 2019 called the hesitation to be vaccinated as one of the biggest threats to health in the world.
Am I too late to get vaccinated?
The answer is a No. According to the CDC, adults who are not vaccinated against measles should receive the first vaccine, which provides 93% protection.
The person traveling to foreign countries or working in the health sector should receive both doses. 28 days after the first vaccine, experts recommend taking the second to raise immunity to 97%.
What if I get it?
If health officials contact you to alert you that you were exposed to the disease, then do as directed.
But if you have not noticed any symptoms, you don’t need to do more. You are definitely not sick.
Signs of measles are very similar to those of the cold, such as cough and fever. They usually appear approximately twelve to fourteen days after getting infected. But patients suffering from measles also have a typical red rash, which usually appears first on the face and extends down to the feet and legs.
If you notice any symptoms of measles, avoid running to the hospital ER or urgently needed care. Instead, call your doctor first so you can coordinate a special consultation during your visit and do not end up infecting others. Measles outbreaks are normally caused by a lack of responsibility than anything else. It is our responsibility as citizens to get ourselves checked immediately after we find any of the symptoms, for ourselves and those around us.